The Gentle Sadness of Things

Jack McDade
Mar 4, 2017 · 2 min read
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The Japanese phrase “mono no aware” poorly translates to English. It describes a state of awareness of the impermanence of things (really, everything), and the act of watching time pass, as if from the outside looking in. It marries joy and love with sorrow or pain.

There is a gentle sadness to being present in a moment so precious that you know you’ll never forget it, and will revisit it as a memory time and time again. It will be a shadow, many details missing, the moment bittersweet. I find myself in this state of “mono no aware” increasingly often.

Because of this, I have spent months training myself to stop seeking distractions, to work in a highly focused manner during the day, and to put it down when I’m done. I do my best to not check social media anymore or use the internet to fill “empty” moments throughout my day. I seek boredom because it’s an indicator that I haven’t mashed more than I should into my day.

It’s in these moments between moments I experience details I would have missed. My 4 year-old son sneaking up and stealing a hug and a thousand kisses from his not-quite-2 year-old sister. My wife napping in the sun, a little smile on her face. A golden sunbeam breaking through the trees, scattering light and causing it to dance, like a glimpse into another world. I’m enthralled with the world around me, and these little things are enough for me.

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The little things are meant to be enjoyed, not forgotten.

How much more important is it to be really present — in the now — than to pour frivolous information from a screen through your eyeballs into your brain?

Please live the one life you have to live. Stop searching for distractions and seek real-life experiences. You can’t buy them. You can’t download them, and they’re not Open Source. You don’t need to share you highlights with people you don’t know. It’s okay to hoard your stories and keep them for yourself. They’re more powerful that way. They’re all yours.

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